“With your mum in court for the remainder of the day and it being so hot and all—seriously though,” he huffs. “These scorching temperatures could put even Hell to shame. I mean, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t even that hot down there, you know? It’s all dark and ashen and about as ‘fiery’ as a drenched skunk—which sounds and smells as bad as you’re imagining, nay—worse. So if you think beige is a drab color…”
He’s fiddling with his cufflinks, toying with the idea of foregoing aesthetic for once (not that it would ever leave him, not even if he tried; he couldn’t, after all, be faulted for his effortless beauty no matter what vestments he may—or may not—be wearing) and opting for a more casual attire to battle this steady onslaught of a heat wave cresting over Los Angeles with no immediate end in sight.
It’s probably why he isn’t prepared for what greets him when he opens the door to Beatrice’s chamber—
“Anyway, I was thinking we head on down to Lux and grab ourselves some ice—"
—and expels a rather undignified shriek as a result.
“Listen,” she starts, her tone measured and her hands held out in front of her in calm supplication. Like he is some rampant, skittish animal that has somehow wandered from home, and needs to be returned to its natural habitat. “It’s not… that… bad…?”
Lucifer shuts his gaping mouth with an audible click, only to dissolve into spluttering speech instead.
“Beatrice, child—what have you done to your hair?” he exclaims, loftily musing that if there ever is a question between them both of who, in that moment, most resembled a wild animal, it certainly isn’t him.
“I swear I was following the instructions!” she waves towards her phone screen, propped upon the mirror of her dresser and opened on a Youtube tutorial for—
“A French braid?” he cries, voice dripping with incredulity.
“I just wanted to look like Elsa!”
“I do hate to break it to you,” he says, mouth puckered in a grimace. “But it’s looking more Grand Pabbie Troll than Majestic Ice Queen right now.”
He stands corrected. The frost to her glare could restore what little remains of the polar ice caps and freeze him on the spot if she possessed an affinity for such gelid destruction. But she didn’t, and being the sire of a Miracle could not gift her even that.
Small mercies and all.
“I’m in so much trouble,” she wails.
He sighs. It is his turn to appeal to her with more than a modicum of wariness as he meets her eyes in the looking glass and approaches her from behind.
“It can’t be much worse than the chocolate cake incident or the doll debacle.”
With soothing hands, he takes her by the shoulders and eases her back onto her chair, though he needn’t have bothered with the gentleness. As she lists against the wood with all the dejectedness of a usurped sovereign, he surveys the damage. At first glance, it does look quite atrocious—her coffee-colored locks teased and twisted into gnarly knots so they look more bird’s nest than actual, human hair. But further inspection shows it not so unsalvageable, her grubby, ten-year old hands thankfully still inexpert to inflict any lasting harm. At least she didn’t cut anything—then they’d have both suffered the wrath of the detective.
He shudders, before realizing he is the Devil and he cowers before no one
that isn’t a slight but tough blonde, blue-eyed, five foot six inches badass cop. He squares his shoulders—a soldier bracing for battle.
From the array of headdress materials spread atop the vanity, he selects his weapon—the sturdiest-looking comb, or as sturdy as plastic can be. He would prefer one of silver or at the very least wood. This pink, sparkling, wide-tooth monstrosity would have to suffice, he laments.
“Now,” he grabs another stool and situates himself to his task, his figure a tower at her back even when seated. “Let’s see if we can’t sort this out, hmm?”
Her eyes widen with desperation.
“Oh Lucifer, you have to fix it,” she practically screams. “You have to!”
“Alright, alright,” he pitches his articulations low to convey his reassurance. It doesn’t erase his bewilderment, however, and at the quizzical brow he directs at her through the mirror she clams up.
Her reticence is an unusual occurrence, but the silence that trails in her wake is no less comforting as it allows him to dedicate his full attention to wrangling her wavy mop into some semblance of order.
He forges a meticulous path from her scalp to her roots, prying tangles apart before smoothing them over with the comb. His hands are light and dexterous as only a skilled piano player can be. Not once does she cry out in pain, of that he makes certain. With every knot unraveled, the panic in her gaze recedes, till every wavy strand is restored and her breathing is even in near repose from his ministrations.
“See?” he murmurs, returning the comb before resting his hands on her shoulders once more. “All better. Nothing a little Devil’s touch couldn’t fix.”
Her relief is palpable in the way she leans into his touch.
“Thanks,” she sighs.
“So what’s this about looking like Elsa?” He rubs kindly at the spot between her shoulder blades when she tenses. “I thought we were on a Moana bender this week.”
Her cheeks blotch with the strain of her blush.
“We are,” she asserts, a little too quickly. “I guess it isn’t really about Elsa. I just… wanted to try a French braid.”
He hums and lets more than a couple of heartbeats pass before replying.
“You know perfectly well Elsa’s from Norway. Do you honestly expect me to believe she’d go for a French braid instead of a Dutch one?”
“But all the Youtubers say—”
“Oh, yes, because anyone willing enough to saddle themselves with the internet persona of ‘TwinkleTendrils87’ is such an authority on the conversion of animation to reality hairstyle. No,” he rolls his eyes. “Don’t think so.”
Her protest withers on her tongue. He smirks, waiting for her own orbs—which she had averted once he began his inquisition—to meet his.
“So do you want to try that again?”
“You can always tell,” she grumbles, unable to abate the accusation that bleeds through her intonations.
“The title of Prince of Lies does hold true to some extent,” he drawls. At her pinched visage, he gives her an encouraging pat. “Well, go on. Tell Lucifer what ails you.” His face suddenly hardens. “Is someone giving you trouble at school again?”
“If I tell you, do you promise you won’t get mad?”
“Darling, you know I don’t get mad,” he grins, all teeth and bite. “I get even.”
She narrows her eyes at him.
“Okay, so… maybe I do both but if it means all that much to you then yes, I solemnly swear not to get angry at or even with you.”
He raises his hands in surrender, humor returning as the edges of his mouth soften with fondness. She returns it with a radiant one of her own, swiveling on her seat so he receives the full wattage of her smile.
But as quickly as it comes, it dims too.
She lifts her legs and tucks them crisscross beneath her to prop an elbow on her thigh. She rests her cheek on a fist as she tilts her chin up and arrests him with her molten, solemn stare.
“Do you think I’m pretty?”
He blinks, slowly… deliberately.
“Is this a trick question?”
“So am I!” He shakes his head, baffled. “Aren’t you a little too young to be concerned about this?”
“I’m almost eleven,” she protests.
“Case in point, you haven’t even reached your teen years, for Dad’s sake! You could at least wait till your face is a Jackson Pollock of acne before getting all angsty. Not that you should be worried about such things.” He waves a flippant hand. “You are a Decker woman, hooker name notwithstanding, and all Decker women have clear skin.”
“Pretty sure I only understood half that sentence…”
“What I’m trying to say, rather poorly I suppose, but what’s new, eh?”
He waggles his eyebrows and though slight, it coaxes a smile to curl at the corners of her lips.
“You shouldn’t have to be thinking about this, much more be bothered by it.” He frowns. “What’s brought this on?”
With her free hand, she picks at the laces of her sneakers so intently, he thinks she won’t answer. His heart starts thumping to the beat of anxiety as he realizes that providing comfort to a ten-year old isn’t exactly part of his skillset and he is severely out of his league on this. But just as he’s about to suggest Beatrice speak with her mother once she returns, words trickle out of her mouth with all the ferocity of a broken dam and he is powerless against the onslaught of her unveiled insecurities.
“It didn’t used to, honest. But all my friends…” she sniffs and to his mounting terror, a suspiciously wet gleam fills those chocolate-molten orbs. “It’s all they ever wanna talk about anymore. It’s always make-up this or hairstyle that and all the latest fashion trends and how to get more followers on their Snapchat.” She throws her hands up with such awkward abruptness, Lucifer must lean back to avoid being casualty to her ire. “I just wanna play hopscotch and talk about Barbie Dreamhouse and fangirl over Rapunzel and Eugene! Is that too much to ask?” she blows a stray tendril from her forehead. “Well I guess so, since the only thing that matters to them is who the prettiest one in the group is.” And with that remark, all the vexation drains from her mien, till only a sadness that should have been foreign to her at such a tender age, remains.
“But one thing’s for sure—it’s definitely not me,” she sighs, a couple of teardrops hugging the curve of her cheeks, “which they love to point out.”
At the sight of the droplets coursing her face, he sees red. He has to remind himself that these are children, and the detective will not approve his slaughtering of the youth—no matter how justified it may be.
Squalid miscreants, he inwardly fumes. Vapid, insolent, pediculous, scalawags! Who do those brats think they are? How dare they—
Ensconced as he is in his rising fury on her behalf, his attempt at comfort is thwarted by the growl in his throat as he utters, “Dry your eyes, Beatrice.”
Unperturbed, and most probably used to his mercurial mood swings (and isn’t that a marvel that she doesn’t run away each time?), she does as told—albeit, the gloominess in her countenance remains.
“I take it these are the same birds from your last sleepover? Mary Beth and the two other ones? Bethany with the y and Bethanie with the i-e?”
Ridiculous, he scorns. Just as Lucifer has an abundance of Brittany acquaintances, Beatrice is saddled with multiple companions whose monikers involve some form of ‘Beth’ in it. At least his duplicates’ names had the same spelling!
Her hesitance is a palpable energy in the quiet that follows, but at his prodding scowl she eventually nods her affirmation.
With lightning heat boiling in his blood he doesn’t trust himself to issue any wholesome advice, so he bids her without speaking to face the mirror again.
“What are you doing?” she braves to ask through watery inflections as he begins dividing her hair into three parts.
“I won’t lie to you by feeding you some sentimental drivel like ‘it’s what’s on the inside that matters’ because humans are fickle things and only few have been exempt from such norms—humans such as your mother and yourself.”
He ignores the crease between her brows, his explanation in the way his hands are intent on their unceasing rhythm of weaving her tresses into a proper Dutch braid that starts on one side of her head and continues to hug the curve of her nape.
“Not to say that the idea is totally unfounded, mind. Beauty, true beauty, lies deep within a person’s soul. I should know,” he winks. “I’ve glimpsed into many a repugnant soul in my time, after all.”
She sticks her tongue out in disgust. He returns the gesture till her expression dissolves into chuckles. With a satisfied nod, he clears his throat before resuming.
“But there is a certain… power in making an impression with the use of one’s appearance. Exhibit A,” he smirks, briefly retracting a hand to gesture at himself. She giggles again, but it quickly fades at his considering perusal.
“Those girls,” a generous term, he thinks with a sneer. “Your so-called ‘friends’? Well, you don’t have to be Dr. Martin to discern that those cads are jealous of your beauty—the natural and inherent kind. And let’s not forget your quick wit. Top of the class, are you not?”
She neither confirms or denies, but she blushes and it’s all the answer he needs.
“Course you are!” he heartily praises.
Not that he can take credit, but his grin is smug enough for them both all the same.
“While I would love to march right into your classroom and give those bloody Beths a piece of my mind before decimating those shallow cows on the spot—”
“Lucifer,” she scolds, reminiscent of the detective, right down to the infinitesimal twist to her lips that betrays her mirth.
“I realize it won’t exactly win me any favors with your mother, so—hand me that elastic, would you, love? There’s a good girl—” he binds the end of the braid. “Here’s a lesson from Old Scratch—the greatest revenge is to be the best version of yourself, especially when you don’t even have to change a thing. Well…”
He cannot help the flourish of his hand as he trails it along the length of her hair, a ripple of stardust in his wake. Beatrice gasps.
“Maybe a little one.”
His beam could power the whole of Los Angeles along with the awe in her scrutiny as she spins at all angles to admire his work.
Ah, he always was a prideful one.
“Who do you think Mazikeen got her styling tips from when we first got here?” he claims with hues of incredulity, as if it ought to be common knowledge that Demons, unless taught, had atrocious fashion sense when left to their own devices. “And when you have as many sisters as I do, and they all pester you at any given hour of the day because, and I quote, ‘no one does it better’,” he preens. “You learn a thing or two about coiffure, or rather, they learned and I got a lot of practice.”
“It’s beautiful,” she cries, her twisted russet locks the color of a dusk-ridden sky. The tiny drops of effulgence he had woven wink faintly at first glance but then burn with the resplendence of a thousand suns when they lace with the natural light.
“No, dear heart.”
When she turns to him, he holds her gaze steady so she cannot doubt his sincerity.
He shakes his head and leaves no room for argument.
“I only enhanced what was all ready there. Have you ever known me to lie?”
“No,” she states simply, a small smile stealing along the breadth of her lips.
“Besides,” he lets his warmth diffuse into her dainty hands as he engulfs them with his own.
“I was the spark that set this universe and the ones after it ablaze. All that is light—within and without, between now and beyond—once lived, and continues to ignite, through me. So believe me when I say that of all the suns and stars in the whole of Creation.”
His lips find the crown of her head.
“You shine the brightest.”
He vowed not to be angry nor to get even with her, and when it comes to the Devil, his word is his bond.
A new school day dawns and with it, Lucifer styles her a new plait but the artfully streamed rivulets of stardust along the length of her auburn hair are unchanged.
And when he picks her up from school later on, he expects the envy that oozes out of the trio of Beths—the imps glaring longingly with all the subtlety of a stampede, as they first narrow onto the shimmer of Beatrice’s braided mane, then at him and his conspicuous show of wealth.
She kicks into a run when she sees him leaning against the hood of the ‘vette, and it is a testament to his fondness that he no longer flinches upon the collision of her svelte frame into his legs nor does he retract from the winding of her gangly arms around his waist.
With her face buried into his suit and the girls’ stares still trained on them, he takes this opportunity to brandish the sunglasses from his eyes. He purposefully allows the brown to fade to red, as his eyes flare with the fury of the million pyres of Hell, and he meets each dirty look with a glower of his own.
To their merit, they do not scream (he blames the distance), but their blanched faces and quaking limbs are a balm to his petty, petty soul—however temporary or minuscule. They ought to be grateful for their naivety and his leniency. Still.
“Good day?” he inquires sweetly as he returns his sunglasses to their perch on his face before opening the passenger door for her. She waits till he is seated behind the wheel before she answers.
“It was great!”
He passes her another pair of shades that he only ever reserves for her. She puts them on with a flourish.
“Even better now that you’re here!”
Unbeknownst to the detective’s daughter, he shoots one last devilish grin at the cowering trio of caked-faced-trying-too-hard swines. His canines glint with malicious glee beneath the simmering L.A. sun.
He did vow not to be angry nor to get even with Beatrice.
Such a shame that the same promise does not extend to her friends.
At her insistence, he tucks her in that night.
They don’t say anything once the evening’s chapter is finished, but it is as he folds her into the blankets that she murmurs, “You are too, you know.”
He quirks an amused brow.
“What are you on about now, child?”
She smiles, delicate fingers cupping at his cheeks when he leans over to unnecessarily fluff her pillows. He freezes at her touch, even when he is tickled by her digits scratching nimbly at his scruff. There is such innocence in the gesture, he is suddenly filled with shame to be at her presence.
“Beatrice,” he whispers, breath tinged with perplexity.
“You’re beautiful, too. Has anyone ever told you that?”
He wants to riposte with an arrogant quip or a jaunty remark, but finds he cannot speak through the lump in his throat nor the leaden weight on his tongue.
“Can’t say that they have,” he tries though it sounds more whine than tease. “But I am a fine specimen in human standards—”
She shakes her head. “I mean, even with your other face.”
He laughs, a tinge of hysteria to the sound. “Now I know you’re pulling my leg.”
“Don’t think I didn’t see what you did to my friends,” her hands tighten around his cheeks in a show of gratitude.
“No one is allowed to hurt you,” he says easily.
“Not that you could control that, but that’s what I mean. You are beautiful, inside and out, and I hope you know it. ‘Kay?”
She lets go, and he inhales greedily at the air like a drowning man who’s broken through the ocean’s surface. It is how he finds the strength to reply, softly, as her eyes droop and her breathing evens into slumber.
It is as he reaches the frame of her door that she delivers one final blow that tips him over the edge and straight into this little girl’s heart, obliterating whatever chasm he might have fooled himself into believing he ought to maintain between them.
“I do love you, Lucifer.”
“I know,” he avers, all the while denying the waver to his speech. How wonderful, he muses, swept by the tranquility of her acceptance and awash as he is in the grace that her love reinvigorates in him. It is why he is only a little surprised, when he searches within for the torment and self-loathing and finds himself absent of both in lieu of the hope and faith and incandescence her presence has gradually pervaded him with, to discover—he believes her.
He believes in the veracity of her pronouncement. He believes in the purity of her caress and he believes in the ardor behind his own pledge when he avows, “And I you, Beatrice.”
His voice is the melody that carries her to the land of dreams, the carillon that will henceforth guide her to sanctuary as he intertwines the part of his soul that doesn’t belong to Chloe, to hers.
“And I you.”